One month ago today, 17-year-old African American Trayvon Martin was walking home from a convenience store in a gated community in Sanford, Florida when he was shot dead by white and hispanic neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmermann, 28. Martin had nothing in his hands but Skittles and a bottle of iced tea. Zimmermann claimed self-defense and police did not arrest him, citing a lack of evidence (what?!) to contradict his story.
In a month’s time, outrage over the tragedy itself and the apparent inaction by the Sanford police — which many suspect to be racially motivated — has made its way to Baltimore, with the NAACP organizing local actions in Martin’s name today, beginning with a march at 5:00 p.m. from McKeldin Square to police headquarters, followed by a rally and vigil at 7:00 p.m. at City Hall.
Now, one of the first things I want to remember to teach my son is “Don’t waste time worrying about internet comments.” It’s a rule I usually try to live by, but, man, the Baltimore CBS article announcing the rally got a rash of comments so belligerent and incendiary I couldn’t believe it. Among the classic why-does-this-get-so-much-attention-when-there-are-other-tragedies comments and the accusations of “race baiting,” there were racial slurs, wholesale condemnations of the NAACP, and surprisingly few statements in support of the calls for justice. I was so taken aback I even — perhaps foolishly — jumped into the “conversation.”
Tell me, are these comments an accurate reflection of racial tensions in Baltimore? Or is the joke on me for even reading them?